Sci-Fi Month – Review of Press Start to PlayAnthology

Press Start to PlayPress Start to Play by Daniel H. Wilson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

 

My final review of what has been a very enjoyable Scifi Month

 

 

Video games are a multi-billion dollar a year industry that has outpaced movies and books combined. The humble, pixelated games of the ‘70s and ‘80s have evolved into the vivid, realistic, and immersive form of entertainment that now rivals all other forms of media for dominance in the consumer marketplace. For many, video games have become the cultural icons around which pop culture revolves.

PRESS START TO PLAY is an anthology of stories inspired by video games: stories that attempt to recreate the feel of a video game in prose form; stories that play with the concepts common (or exclusive) to video games; and stories about the creation of video games and/or about the video games—or the gamers—themselves.

These stories will appeal to anyone who has interacted with games, from hardcore teenaged fanatics, to men and women who game after their children have gone to bed, to your well-meaning aunt who won’t stop inviting you to join her farm-based Facebook games.

At the helm of this project are Daniel H. Wilson—bestselling novelist and expert in artificial intelligence—and John Joseph Adams—bestselling, Hugo Award-nominated editor of more than a dozen science fiction/fantasy anthologies and series editor of Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy(volume one forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin in 2015). Together, they have drawn on their wide-ranging contacts to assemble an incredibly talented group of authors who are eager to attack the topic of video games from startling and fascinating angles.

Under the direction of an A.I. specialist and a veteran editor, the anthology will expose readers to a strategically chosen mix of stories that explore novel video game concepts in prose narratives, such as save points, kill screens, gold-farming, respawning, first-person shooters, unlocking achievements, and getting “pwned.” Likewise, each of our authors is an accomplished specialist in areas such as science fiction, fantasy, and techno-thrillers, and many have experience writing for video games professionally.

Combining unique viewpoints and exacting realism, this anthology promises to thrill generations of readers, from those who grew up with Atari 2600s to the console and PC gamers of today.

I love reading anthologies, its a great way to find new authors , read side stories so current favourites , and see a range of imaginations in bitesize form.
For me , in recent years I have found John Joseph Adams to be one of the best editors in the game.
This is a book I was quite excited to start and anticipated great things.
The book was inspired to some degree by Ernest Clines recent books but the intro reveals his story failed to make the deadline and the dissapointment continued from there. Its not all terrible. I enjoyed a reasonable amount of the stories. Andy Weirs humour shines through, Hugh Howey’s was a strong one to finish on, Rhianna Pratchetts was a decent story, Ken Liu’s was very good. Of the lesser knowns I quite enjoyed Jessica Barber. But so much of the rest ranged from ok to bad. Many barely fit the guidelines for the collection.
To be honest I think about 200 pages could have been cut and it would have vastly improve the book.
It felt like digging through a pile of muck to find anything of quality and frankly an anthology shouldn’t be that much effort.
Maybe they were a bit soft on the submissions or only got a very small amount buy it really could have done with a harder hand .
Its a bit of a shame , the idea did bring out some good imaginative stories but I won’t be recommending this too much.

View all my reviews

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About Paul Walsh

I'm a big fan of fantasy and scifi, which would make up most of my reading but will branch out often enough. Favourite authors vary over time but generally include Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Conn Iggulden, Robert Harris, Karen Maitlan, Kate Mosse, Anne Rice, Philip K Dick, Ray Bradbury. John Scalzi, Mark Lawrence, Pat Rothfuss and a host of others. I'm not the harshest reviewer but will note down a few words on all books I read.
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